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Consolidated Ditch Company records

Identifier: COU:458

Scope and Contents

The collection contains the minutes of the Board of Directors, stock records and the companies ledgers and journals for the period of 1859 to 1868.


  • Creation: 1859 - 1868

Historical Note

From the beginning, lack of water seriously handicapped mining in Gilpin County. The problem of diverting waters of Fall River to supply the mills and mines interested a number of its early miners. Two local companies, The Rocky Mountain Ditch Co. and The Fall River Ditch Co., were organized to build such a canal. But before either company began any construction they were merged on July 21, 1859 as The Consolidated Ditch Co. R. W. Steele was elected secretary and J. M. Piper treasurer with G. W. Cook as Superintendent. The company secured a liberal charter from the Jefferson Territorial government giving it exclusive rights to the water of Fall River for 30 years. Work on the ditch was pushed as rapidly as possible that winter and by July 16, 1860, water began pouring into the artificial reservoir that had been built in Lake Gulch. This ditch, 12 miles long and capable of supplying about 1500 inches of water a day, served claims over a wide area, through a large number of branches. The miners paid $1 an inch a day for water. At this rate the ditch paid for itself in the first short summer of 1860. Upon completion, liabilities of only $30,000 were reported, whereas the company was capitalized at $100,000. The next summer the ditch returned $28,000 net profit above the cost of the enlargements made in the intervening winter. Dividends of 28% were declared that year and 100% anticipated the next. Despite the rosy financial conditions the company was not without problems. A lot of difficulty stemmed from the differing demands of placer mining, like Nevada City and Spring Gulch, and lode mines, as Central and Mountain cities and Blackhawk. Mass meetings were held and injunctions were obtained but the placer mining soon played out and the dissension subsided. The other problem was not as easily solved; the water supply of the ditch was not always dependable, especially in winter and its customers often complained of frequent and unexpected fluxuations in the water level. A second grant, but only for ten years, was obtained from the bona fide Colorado Territorial Government in 1861 and the Ditch Company suffered with the rest of Gilpin County when the bubble of mining speculation burst in 1865. A New York syndicate acquired control of the company and held its monopoly tenaciously for years, despite repeated local efforts to regain control.


1 linear feet (6 items)

Language of Materials



Two local companies organized to divert waters of Fall River, for Gilpin County miners, merged to form the Consolidated Ditch Co. on July 21, 1859. Charter with 30 years exclusive rights was obtained from Jefferson Territorial Government and the canal was completed July 19, 1860. Paid for itself in the first year. New York syndicate later gained control. The collection contains minutes and Board of Directors, Stock Records and journal and ledger.

Edited by: Heidi Buhr, June, 2008
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States